Welcome To The Cradle Chronicles!

These are the crazy confessions of a first time mommy, and her adventures in world "mom-ination." If you are coming to this blogsite by way of People.com, chances are you’re already familiar with my writing style and “Mommy-centric” blog fodder. If not, I'll introduce myself with this brief summary: Suffice it to say, I had a baby in May. Now, I’m not suggesting this defines me entirely, but it certainly goes a long way toward explaining my daily trials and tribulations with spit-up and dirty diapers. Which brings me to… Welcome to The Cradle Chronicles! I hope you’ll continue coming back again and again for more of my motherhood anecdotes, and I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to follow me on Twitter too!

--Photos in Welcome section courtesy of Mimosa Arts Photography--

December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Due to extensive holiday travel plans with my family, I am taking two weeks off from posting new material on The Cradle Chronicles. I hope you understand, and will return on Friday, January 3, 2014, to read the next new Cradle Chronicles installment! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this year’s family Christmas photo… I’m pretty sure Gray’s face says it all!

 

From my family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy, and blessed holiday season. See you in 2014!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

 

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December 13, 2013

 

This is my last Thanksgiving-related post. I swear.

I know we are well into December now, but last week I promised you the story about our delayed Thanksgiving celebration, so here it goes…

 

Thanksgiving was a bit of a bust for us, and that’s putting it mildly. There was no turkey or chestnut stuffing; there were no pumpkin pies or Tryptophan-induced stupors. There wasn’t even the distraction of a noisy football game or the joy of putting up the Christmas tree. There was just Pneumonia. And while I scoff at a cold, and gingerly push through the flu, Pneumonia had me face down on the floor of the boxing ring (actually it was the bathroom floor…) with an invisible elfin referee on my shoulder screaming, “We’ve got a TKO, Ladies & Gentleman!” I was officially down for the count.

 

It’s never fun to be under the weather, but if I thought being sick before having kids was bad, I was in for a rude awakening as a parent. Gone are the days of sleeping it off during the afternoon, and sipping 7-Up while watching Andy Griffith reruns until one feels better again. Gone are the days of having coughing fits without scaring anyone, since mini-me has no idea why you sound like a Gremlin and your body is contorting like something out of The Exorcist (not that mini-me is old enough to know what those movies even are, but you get the point). Gone too, it seems, is the ease of effortlessly bouncing back to health. But it’s so much more than that. Aside from the obvious fear of giving your child whatever illness you’ve contracted, it’s the mundane stuff that makes getting sick so impossibly difficult as a parent. Because let’s be honest– trying to chase after a walking, talking ball of energy, when you have the balance of a drunken sailor, is an abysmally draining task. It’s hard to explain why you can’t handle playing hide and go seek, or why the thermometer isn’t something the doggies are allowed to play with. It’s difficult to offer up the words, “Don’t stand up on the couch!” with any kind of authority, when you’re weakly muttering it through feverish delirium. Likewise, chattering teeth can make the phrase, “Please don’t draw on the wall with cheese,” slightly more lackluster than you intended for it to be. And let’s not get started on the puking.  Oh, the puking. In my particular case, and worst of all, I was instructed to wear a protective facemask in front of my child for 48 hours. It nearly did me in. There’s something terribly pitiful about having your 18-month old tug your mask down so she can make sure Mommy is still under there. Thank God that was short-lived.

 

And so my Pneumonia made me tough to be around for about ten days. I was running a high fever for six of them, which rendered me horribly dazed and confused, and meant that I was virtually incapable of doing anything for myself. This included walking to the bathroom without passing out; I’ll spare you the rest of the gruesome details. I’m eternally grateful for my husband, who wound up taking four days off from work to nurse me back to health. He essentially spent every waking moment trying to juggle two needy babies. (For the record, one of us tried to spare him as much whining as humanly possible… thank you, Gray!) Now, more than ever before, I have serious respect for the single moms out there. Because I’m not gonna lie, I couldn’t have hacked it on my own. You guys are rock stars.

 

Courtesy of some heavy-duty antibiotics and much-needed rest, I was (am) finally on the mend. And with the “better late than never” cliché in mind, we decided to celebrate a very belated feast of thanks at our house about ten days after the fact. In December. Suffice it to say I was more than a little excited to get a turkey in that oven! So fear not, friends, Pneumonia hasn’t gotten the better of me, and the Thanksgiving-that-nearly-wasn’t has finally come to pass.

 

Now bring on a HEALTHIER Christmas, please!  Wishing you all a safe and healthy holiday season…

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

 

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December 6, 2013

In honor of our Thanksgiving that wasn’t (check back next week for my blog post on how our holiday was overshadowed), I thought I would proffer a funny little anecdote, along with an equally funny photo of my daughter’s school project…

When I went to pick Gray up from daycare the week before Thanksgiving, I was reminded of one of the reasons I adore her school so much: they really stress creative expression. For a mom who’s kid already loves to color on walls and sing at the top of her lungs in the bathtub, that’s both heart-warming and a relief. (It also gives me hope that, sooner rather than later, she’ll be focusing her artistic attentions on canvas and paper instead of our refrigerator and front door. But I digress.) As I passed by each classroom, I stopped to appreciate all of the various Thanksgiving-inspired artwork: cornucopia’s overflowing with hand drawn fruits, and fall colors splashed across white construction paper like a pile of fiery autumn leaves.

When I got to the toddler room, which is Gray’s class, there was a perfect lineup of handprint turkeys. How wonderfully nostalgic! I was struck by the delicacy of them all, and they made me smile while simultaneously tugging at my sentimental heartstrings. The handprints were transformed into silly painted turkeys, yes, but they were still an indication of how beautifully and quickly our children are growing. Boasting bright feathers and whimsical little wattles, each one had a child’s name printed in the corner. As I scanned the flock for my own daughter’s masterpiece, my eyes passed over pristine handprint turkey after pristine little handprint turkey. And that’s when I got to Gray’s fine-feathered friend… A macabre fellow, who somehow managed to be the one guy looking as though he’d already been executed. It was the equivalent of Quentin Tarantino directing a Disney flick.

 

I’m so proud.

 

Here’s hoping you and yours had a happy Thanksgiving holiday, and that everyone fared better than this guy!

(And in case you’re curious, Mr. Morbid Turkey is totally staying up on our fridge…)

The Perfect Turkey

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

 

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  • Morgan says:

    Jenna, this picture made me laugh out loud! I love your blog, and look forward to it each week. I have a 19 month old (also my first), and she and Gray are often involved in similar escapades. I hope you and your family enjoy the holidays; I know they will be especially magical this year!

November 29, 2013

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It’s that time of year when we conduct November’s annual rite of passage, gathering around the family table and mercilessly stuffing our faces full of mashed potatoes, chestnut dressing, and turkey (or turducken, if you’re slightly more ambitious with your culinary skills). We join hands and give thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us throughout the year, reminisce about the time Uncle Bob spilled his eggnog in the cranberry sauce (talk about “sauced”), and dream of a utopian future which will enable us to beam in robot housekeepers who won’t bemoan the number of pesky after-dinner dishes piling up in our kitchen sink. Once the harvest meal is through, we crash on the couch in a supposed Tryptophan-induced stupor, absent-mindedly watching the Macy’s Day Parade and pretending to be interested in the football games that follow, before foolishly over-indulging in round two of the day’s leftovers and repeating the grisly cycle yet again. In anticipation of the forthcoming December holidays, some of us begin our yearly trek to the far corners of our attic to fetch ornaments and stockings (or other related symbols of the season), grumbling about untangling Christmas tree lights and wondering how last year’s evergreen is still managing to scatter prickly little needles across our living room, despite its current status as garden mulch. If we’re lucky, our children have come down from their pumpkin pie sugar high before bedtime, and we aren’t up all night nursing tummy aches– theirs or our own– or having night terrors about drunken mall Santas and 4am Black Friday shopping sprees. But I digress. Despite the holiday chaos and impending post-Thanksgiving malaise, the point of November’s celebratory feast remains. Appropriate to its namesake, I’m thankful for every bit of it.

I hope some of what I’m grateful for is a given– that my past blog posts have exposed, and properly honored, my gratitude for my loved ones and the gifts we’ve been granted. I’m optimistic that most of you read between the silly and sarcastic lines I write, and see through to the intentions beneath them. Because all joking aside, I’m exceedingly thankful for the ability to wake up every morning to the man I love and our enchanting, wondrous daughter. I absolutely adore being a wife and mommy, and nothing makes me happier than spending my days chasing after a little girl who never stops challenging the amount of love I thought I was capable of possessing in one lifetime! The extent of my appreciation cannot fit within the confines of this post; the only thing truly large enough to hold it all is my heart.

With that said, and in keeping with the Thanksgiving spirit, I wanted to offer you a somewhat satirical rendition of a list of parent-related items I’m especially thankful for this year. Having a baby has made me infinitely more conscious of how I’ve taken smaller details for granted in the past. So this year, when I sit down to extend my acknowledgment and praise on “Turkey Day,” I’m giving some of those vital helping hands a little love too. In no particular order:

1.    Roomba: You are one hell of a workhorse. Thank you for cleaning up wayward goldfish crumbs, the miscellaneous vegetable peels that miss the compost can, and the sporadic piles of paper strips that accumulate when my daughter succeeds in getting a hold of the napkin dispenser. You allow me to enjoy my little girl’s penchant for making a mess, without stressing that I can’t get it cleaned up before company arrives. Not to mention, you suck up those giant dog hair tumbleweeds that collect in forgotten corners of our house, and you don’t even complain about it! Best of all, you are a true caffeine martyr. You save me from hyperactive canines –and kids, for that matter– by digesting the fallen coffee beans that my husband always seems to send skittering across our kitchen floor as he refills the grinder. (Lord knows my life is hectic enough, without having a caffeinated Pug on my hands!) I know we keep you busier than Charlie Sheen’s attorney these days, but you handle it with style and grace… Despite your propensity to trap yourself in the bathroom and aimlessly spin in circles for hours. Which I personally find hilarious.

Mr. Morning Cup of Coffee

2.    Mr. Morning Cup of Coffee (and your sidekicks, Second Cup & Third Cup):  You are my lifelines and my curative comrades. Thank you for your support and guidance, especially on those chilly mornings when I want to crawl back into bed and can’t or shouldn’t. You’ve gotten me through many a blog post, including this one!

 Flashlight Army

 3.    Flashlight Army: I’m not exactly sure why my hubby owns more of you than he owns pairs of shoes, but I’ll admit you earn your keep. You bring new meaning to the phrase, “location, location, location!” Thank you for helping to unearth the plethora of books, toys, crayons, and sippy cup straws our daughter hides under the couch. Without you, she’d be hoarding the entire utensil drawer under there… Even the stray plastic sporks we’ve been compelled to save from random take-out orders. Also, thank you for shedding light on the errant dog kibble that stows away under our rugs and drives our dogs crazy. Their endless pawing to retrieve the damn things makes me crazy, so you’ve essentially contributed toward my mental stability.

4.    Baby Proof Toilet Latch: My husband and I have discovered that you exist almost as much for the sanity of the parent, as for the safety of the child.  Thank you for keeping little fingers from getting crushed under the weight of that maniacal and spastic toilet bowl lid (I swear he has it in for all of us!), and thank you for your constant protection. You are an unparalleled sentinel, saving every hairbrush, sock, lipstick, toothpaste tube, and toilet paper roll from certain death in a watery grave.

 5.    iVy iPod: Thank you for the constant Raffi and Little Mermaid earworms you gift me on a daily basis. You are too kind! You provide tunes while my daughter bathes, encouraging her to splash water all over the room… And the walls. And the dogs. To some, this may sound like a thankless job, but you are also helping Gray to express herself through music, and for that I am eternally grateful. Your choice of artists may not always be up my alley, but you literally (and figuratively) rock.

 6.    Elmo: Thank you for being Gray’s little buddy. She loves watching your show; you are by far the most famous TV star in our house! Gray is especially fond of the fact that your picture is on the front of her current set of diapers, and she’s a big fan of your Potty Time with Elmo book lately, so… perhaps I should also thank you for any future assistance you can offer in that department.

7.    Sir Step Stool: Pretty soon Gray will be taller than me, and I swear you won’t be quite as overworked and underpaid. In the meantime, thanks for helping me stow every fragile/sharp/inedible/irreparable/irreplaceable item out of Gray’s reach. Oh yeah, and bonus points for being collapsible, so you aren’t providing her with yet another piece of furniture to climb on!

Hat Posse

 8.    Hat Posse: I appreciate that you don’t discriminate– that your clique encompasses every shape, size, and level of fashion-awareness. You don’t need to be Haute Couture to make my daughter smile, and you manage to make her do that without fail. Turns out, you are the one thing that can thwart a foul mood in our house! (We discovered this one evening when she begged for you amidst tears and sniffling, then immediately started laughing once you were atop her head.) Despite the fact that I swore you and your kind off after a case of over-saturation during the Blossom years, you’ve restored my faith. You’ve cured teething woes just by being present, and proven to be a successful source of distraction when a tantrum is on the horizon.

The Crayola Crayon Coterie

9.     The Crayola Crayon Coterie: Thank you for providing Gray with endless hours of fun and entertainment, even if you aren’t fond of sticking to the coloring book playground we’ve designated for you. I’m hoping one of these days your crew will stop “accidentally” wandering onto our refrigerator and front door, but I think I can see through to forgiving your transgressions. Particularly since you amuse my budding artist long enough for me to cook dinner!

 10.   Disinfecting Wipes: Thank you for cleaning up after the aforementioned “Crayon Coterie.” Those guys can get a little out of hand, and you’re always there to swoop in and save the day. Likewise, you do a remarkable job of sanitizing our grocery store carts before we wheel around the produce aisle, which I imagine staves off some of those foul, nasty germ miscreants. As a side note, I also owe you some kudos for getting the crusty oatmeal off of the couch cushions yesterday, and the Basset Hound drool off of the curtains last week.

11.  Kitchen Pots & Pans: You assist me in feeding my family and you double as an impromptu drum set for my kid. What more can I ask for?

Water

12.  Water: Most folks simply see you as good ol’ H2O, but I know better. You’ve taught my daughter to drink through a straw, kept her from being obsessed with sugary juice drinks, cleaned strawberries off of her face and paint off of her clothes, and let her endlessly splash you around during tub time. Best of all, you tame her Einstein hair…. Which is no easy feat, let me tell you!

 13.  Boogie Wipes: This should be self-explanatory. You deserve a standing ovation for keeping Gray’s nose happy and snot-free. I don’t know how you do it, but you actually inspire her to ask me to clean her nose, instead of running for the hills every time a box of tissue makes an appearance. How awesome are you?? In fact, I’m so grateful that I’ve even written you your very own ditty to the melody of that funky 70’s disco tune, Boogie Nights. It’s a pretty catchy interpretation, if I do say so myself! (That is, if you like waxing poetic about slime.)

 

And last but not least…

 

14. Her Excellency, Madame Glass of Wine: Your occasional presence, after our sweet baby is off in dreamland for the night, is much appreciated. Every now and then, we like your company at the end of a long and trying evening, so thank you for offering my husband and I an opportunity to celebrate the success of getting through another day of parenting! We aren’t always graceful or perfect in that undertaking, but we sure do love every minute of it! You remind us to stop and take a moment out for ourselves, and you encourage us to put our feet up for a few minutes, appreciate our alone time together, and cherish all of the wonderful memories from the day. We’ve collected many special bottles of you over the years, thanks to special occasions and our travels, and it has been nice getting to know each and every one of you. A toast to your friendship!

 

Obviously, the above list is a partial one. Nary a day goes by that I don’t realize how indebted I am to the various gadgets and gizmos that aid and abet my parenting! The truth is that motherhood requires assistance, and I’ve found it can come through a myriad of different channels… family members, friends, teachers, medical professionals, and apparently, even miscellaneous household products. I hope I’ve made you laugh a bit, and maybe even opened your eyes to the wonderful world of indispensable inanimate objects. They can be our parenting partners in crime! So this Thanksgiving, as you sit down to spread heartfelt love and thanks to those around you, I urge you to give a brief round of applause for the little guys… because no one should be exempt from a little validation. Even robot vacuums.

Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, blessed, and thankful holiday season!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

**As a side note: Any reference to a specific brand or item in my blog is because I felt it would make the post funnier, or give you more insight into what we actually use around the house. I wasn’t compensated for any of these mentions, and it doesn’t denote any sponsorship!

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November 22, 2013

 

In honor of the sacred alone time I’m attempting to find a little more of lately, I thought I’d let you in on a few of my favorite things to do when I allow a quiet moment for myself. (It’s a good reminder for me too!) In no particular order…

1.    Drinking a glass of wine. Okay, maybe this list is in order; don’t judge. I currently live in the Bible Belt, where a lot of folks frown upon the notion of touching their lips to an alcoholic beverage of any kind. To each their own, but indulging in a glass of (what I fondly refer to as) “Mommy juice” every now and then is good for the soul. Hell, I’m a firm believer that a glass a day keeps the doctor away…  far more than those silly apples, which claim to do the same! I generally prefer a Cabernet or a Syrah, though I’ve been known to partake in a dry French rosé, or even an Albariño, on a hot summer day. Regardless of the varietal, sitting back and sipping a glass of delicious vino is a beautiful thing. (Not to mention, I’m Catholic, and we do like our wine!)

2.    Watching an episode of Castle or The Mentalist. It seems I‘m always several years behind the curve in discovering good television shows. While everyone else is enjoying season four of something, I’ve typically just stumbled onto episode one. That said, at least it allows me to watch at my own pace, since everything is on DVD by the time I get into it. And when your mommy me-time is limited, that’s a huge benefit! Instead of impatiently waiting for my weekly fix, I marathon everything well after the fact. Once a week, during Gray’s naptime, I try to force myself to set work aside for an hour and let someone else do the entertaining. It gives my mind a rest for a while, and allows me to refuel.  While some of the shows I watch are totally frivolous, they offer me the chance to ignore my own drama in lieu of someone else’s. And who doesn’t love some drama they can easily walk away from when they need a snack or a bathroom break?

3.    Cooking. If you’ve read my past blogs, you are already aware of my affinity for cooking as therapy. If you approach meal assembly with a sense of passion, it can truly be a curative and spiritual art. I adore the preparation process; it’s all in the details for me. There’s something soothing about dimming the lights, lighting the candles, turning on the Something’s Gotta Give or Julie & Julia soundtrack, and sharpening my good knife! If I’m able to temporarily lose myself in chopping Italian parsley and sautéing garlic for a few minutes, I’m a happy woman… Of course, it doesn’t hurt when the culinary experience is accompanied by the first item on this list :)

4.    Writing my book. Despite having to keep up with (and find time for) penning a weekly blog, I like to work on my book every chance I get. These days, my brain is constantly swarming with endless strings of syntax, and grammar rules galore. Inspiration often comes from the strangest sources, and I have to write when the mood strikes. When I’m fortunate enough for that to occur during my alone time, it’s an opportunity I just can’t pass up!

5.    Reading. It seems I never allow myself much time for this pastime anymore, and I’m beginning to realize just how much I miss it. My husband and I are both very avid readers, and we used to fit in a few chapters every night before bed. However, if I’m able to read before bed at this point, it’s likely Curious George Goes To The Zoo or Green Eggs And Ham. While I treasure every moment spent reading to my daughter, I also yearn for the inspiration of a novel I can really dig into. I long to feed my soul with colorful characters and eloquent language. It’s much like the need to have adult conversations every now and then… Which I also try to make time for!

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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November 15, 2013

Gray & Gigi

Grandma’s Hugs are Made of Love

Everything my grandma does
is something special made with love.
She takes time to add the extra touch
that says, “I love you very much.”

She fixes hurts with a kiss and smile
and tells good stories grandma-style.
It’s warm and cozy on her lap
for secret telling or a nap.

And when I say my prayers at night,
I ask God to bless and hold her tight.
Cause when it comes to giving hugs
my grandma’s arms are filled with love!

Author Unknown

 

Gray & Grandma 2

My mom came to visit this month, and watching her with my daughter made me downright gleeful. I laughed out loud, cried with tears of joy, and even inadvertently snorted during a few particularly hilarious moments. But most of all, I treasured observing the two of them interact… A grandmother and her granddaughter have a special bond that no one can deny. A visit from Grandma this month meant having another helping hand at music class, stitched up holes in Gray’s favorite pajamas, sharing yummy ice cream at our favorite shop, assistance in picking out pumpkins at the farmer’s market, a trick or treating chaperone, extra cuddles and hugs, reading books before bed, and homemade blueberry muffins in the morning (Which means I totally lucked out too!). In honor of their time together, I thought I’d proffer a few photos of a trip we took to the local park, where Gray and her “Gigi” strolled hand in hand, slid down the “big girl” slides, and swung to their hearts content. Which, ironically, made my heart content too! God bless Grandmas!!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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November 8, 2013

The Life of the Party

Trick Or Treat

It was Gray’s first year of trick or treating, and we hit the ground running. No, she can’t yet plead for candy until she’s consumed enough to spike the glucose level of a rhinoceros (thank God), but we wanted her to experience Halloween in all of its wonderfully creepy glory. We dressed her as a fancy little bumblebee, complete with antennae and wings. Not to be left out, I made myself a beekeeper’s hat, and pinned a giant stuffed bee to my husband’s shirt. When asked, I suggested I’d let everyone else decide which of us is really the “queen bee.” (To which my husband wryly quipped, “I guess that makes me the drone?”)

 

To Bee Or Not To Bee

 

In nearby Franklin, Tennessee, they shut down several blocks of the Main Street each year in support of the Halloween festivities. It’s a police patrolled event, so it is a safe way to allow kids to conduct the age-old practice of dressing up in something adorably ghoulish, and trick or treating their way into a sugar-induced coma.  And thousands of children show up each year to participate. I know my propensity to exaggerate, but this isn’t one of those occasions. There are, quite literally, thousands of kids… not to mention some chocoholic adults who get a little carried away with their confectionery consumption. But I digress. Fortunately, dear friends of ours restored a stunning historic home right smack dab in the middle of it all, which means we have a “home base” of sorts. They more than do their part to decorate and hand out goodies each year (no joke, they emptied six Rubbermaid storage containers of treats!!), and we’ve made a tradition of joining them. In the past, we’ve handed out candy until the wee hours, gleefully laughing at little goblins as we’ve enjoyed a glass of wine and a huge pot of chili. But this year it was so much more than that, as we brought Gray from house to house, attempting to convince her to say “Trick or Treat.” Of course, those words were never officially uttered from her lips, but the spirit was there nonetheless. Her face lit up as she approached each homeowner and held out her pumpkin-shaped goodie bag. She would peer in afterward, to see what she had retrieved. She spent the evening humming little made-up tunes, and saying hello to passersby, regardless of how scary their masks might have been. And despite the fact that a cherry Tootsiepop was the only candy we allowed her to partake in after all of her efforts, she didn’t seem to mind. Moreover, she had just as much fun passing out candy to others, when we let her join us on our distribution “shift.” It was neat to watch her rush out to the sidewalk, to drop a handful of sweets into the bag of a mini ballerina or a toddling cowboy. Her capacity for sharing melted my heart, and I suppose it reinforced something I’ve known from day one… my daughter will always “bee” the life of the party.

 The Party is Over

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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November 1, 2013
Happy October From Gray & I!

Photo By: Mimosa Arts Photography

I know it’s the first day of November, but it’s October that still has me beguiled. October ignites the changing of seasons. It is the ushering in of cool days and crisp evenings, a magical time when the foliage cloaks itself in various shades of fire. It is a season which begs for the retrieval of cozy sweaters from the attic, making hand-dipped caramel apples, picking gourds at the local farmer’s market, sipping hot coffee on the front porch while gazing out at a foggy morning, and smelling the scent of hickory smoke from a neighbor’s wood burning stove. It prompts the scramble to find recipes for toasted pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin lattes, and pumpkin pies, and… well, pumpkin everything. (Is it my imagination, or has the pumpkin spice flavor fad taken over this season? Next up: pumpkin spice-scented toothpaste and toilet paper. God forbid.)

I eagerly beckon in the fall; it is my favorite season. The thought of it conjures stunning images of my childhood: the East Coast autumnal landscape, Halloween costume plotting, and swinging into colossal piles of raked leaves with my siblings. October is an enchanting, poetic time of year that has always inspired my heart. And it began doing so on a whole new level when my husband and I chose 10-10-10 to say, “I do.”

These days, October represents the resurrection of memories from our wedding day. It means opening up our treasured, leather-bound album, and reminiscing. It is a time to reflect on that beautiful afternoon when our closest family and friends gathered together at a bed and breakfast in Connecticut, to show their profound support and adoration for the love my husband and I share. It is celebrating that love all over again every October 10th, and bursting with gratitude for the blessings that have been bestowed upon us since then.

Yes, the month of October has taken on a life of it’s own. When Brad and I exchanged our heartfelt, self-written vows three years ago, we began a journey of love and learning that has lead to moments of joy, triumph, comedy, exhilaration, and even frustration. (After all, marriage is a constant work in progress, isn’t it? I’m a firm believer that if love were easy, we wouldn’t have the same degree of appreciation for it…) But most of all, our vows intensified the endless amount of trust, respect, and affection we have for one another.

And there’s proof of all of that in one phenomenal little seventeen-month old girl named Gray.

Waiting until my mid-thirties to get married meant I’d had plenty of time to dream of babies. Let’s just say my biological clock was ticking so loudly, I didn’t need to wear a wristwatch or set an alarm clock. But as we all know, life abides by its own set of rules and timelines, and they aren’t always in sync with our own. When Brad and I were finally blessed with finding one another, we knew kids would follow soon after our marriage. We both (firmly and resolutely) wanted children, and we were up front about it from the get-go. In fact, I posed the “do you want kids?” question on one of our first dates. I wasn’t messing around where that issue was concerned! In a way, the idea of raising babies became part of what endeared us to one another. It was one more way for us to connect and share our hopes for the future. And the truth is that Brad and I were already head over heels for Gray long before she entered the picture. She was a fixture in our thoughts, even on our wedding day. We may not have known her name, her arrival date, or whether she would be a boy or girl, but we knew she would eventually be in our lives. In our hearts, we were parents even before we had a living, breathing little girl to show for it. (Unless, of course, one takes canine babies into consideration!)

So in honor of the event that ultimately lead to my becoming a mommy– that stunningly perfect October afternoon when the skies stopped crying long enough for the sun to smile down on our wedding ceremony– I thought I’d do a blog in snapshots this month. I hope you enjoy perusing some of my favorite photos from that special day, as well as a few recent ones from this year. Viva October!

Here's Your Sign

Photo By: Brooke Boling Photography

Here’s Your Sign

I love the simplicity of this photo– everything the day stood for was represented on a little wooden sign!

It's All In The Details

Photo By: Brooke Boling Photography

It’s All In The Details

I’m a stickler for details, and it was very important to me to have personal touches around that made the wedding ours and ours alone. One of my favorites was my bouquet, which had old brooches of my Grandmother’s fastened onto it. Though she passed away years ago, it was neat to have that special reminder of her with me as I experienced such a beautiful milestone in my life. She would have been so proud!

Them Boots Were Made For Walkin'... Down The Aisle!

Photo By: Brooke Boling Photography

 Them Boots Were Made For Walkin’… Down The Aisle

There’s something I just adore about this photo of the boots I wore under my wedding gown. I love the vibrant colors and the composition of the photograph, but it’s much more than that. I think I’m partial to the idea that this was taken before our life-changing celebration began. It’s a snapshot of a moment in time: a pair of shoes never worn before, both literally and figuratively. These boots walked me down the aisle, stood beside my husband as we took our marriage vows, and danced us to our wedding song.

Our Marriage Vow Journal

Photo By: Brooke Boling Photography

Our Marriage Vow Journal

Brad and I read our vows, which we wrote ourselves and kept secret from one another until the ceremony, from a little journal engraved with our initials. Along with the other profoundly emotional and sincere words we extended to one another, it happens that we both spoke of the children we couldn’t wait to have together. Who knew we’d end up celebrating my pregnancy exactly a year later?! Gray has truly been the answer to our prayers.

 

Just Married!

Photo By: Brooke Boling Photography

Just Married!

This was taken in the moment immediately following the official pronouncement that we were husband and wife, and it makes me smile every time I see it. All of our happy tears and nerves had faded into giant smiles of sheer euphoria and marriage-induced intoxication!

Picture Perfect With A Pug

Photo By: Carla Ten Eyck Photography

Picture Perfect With A Pug

Before we were Gray’s parents, we were parents to Bruiser, Bailey, Mia, Boo, and Ruby. Not all of the pups could attend our wedding due to logistics (not to mention the highly probable, basset hound-instigated ruckus which would have ensued), but Bruiser served as our ring bearer. He did a fantastic job, and we had a quick photo opportunity with him before he headed home for the night. You know, since it was kind of pushing it to squeeze a Pug into a tuxedo for longer than ten minutes in the first place.

Siblings In Photo Booth (L-R: Peter, me, Alyssa, & Tyler)

Photo By: Carla Ten Eyck Photography

Siblings In Photo Booth (L-R: Peter, me, Alyssa, & Tyler)

Many of my favorite wedding photos consist of family and friends enjoying the festivities. From the photo booth, to the dance floor, to our amazing after-party (friends got up and sang ‘til the wee hours…), there was definitely a lot of love and joy going around! In an effort to maintain everyone’s privacy, I’ve refrained from posting any of those pictures. However, I just couldn’t resist including this one of my younger siblings and I hamming it up in the photo booth. I appreciate them agreeing to let me post it!

Dance With The One That Brought You… And Then Married You!

Photo By: Brooke Boling Photography

Dance With The One That Brought You… And Then Married You!

 I’m thoroughly captivated by this photo of us captivated with each other. This was during a very special dance that I surprised my husband with during our reception. I’d written and recorded a song for him, then snuck it to our DJ. Brad has been a huge supporter of my music endeavors, so it was neat to give him such an intimate and personal gift!

Under The Weather

Photo By: Brooke Boling Photography

Under The Weather

After a week of pouring rain, the clouds parted and our wedding day was gorgeous. Just in case Murphy’s Law and the inclement weather kicked back in, we’d rented vintage parasols. Thankfully, we didn’t wind up using any of them… except as props for some really cute photos!

 … And It All Lead To This Beautiful, Curious, Wonderful, Tiny Human.

Photo By: Mimosa Arts Photography

 … And It All Lead To This Beautiful, Curious, Wonderful, Tiny Human. 

Marriage has brought a lot of wonderful adventures to Brad and I, but none are as profound as the birth of our daughter. This little girl has stolen and hearts, and I’m pretty sure she’ll be holding them hostage (in the best possible way, of course) forever!!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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October 25, 2013

Salted Caramel Sauce

 

I’m a sucker for salted caramel. It is my recent addiction/obsession/I’m-jonesing-for-it-like-it’s-crack thing. I don’t know who first came up with combining that sweet and salty duo, but they go together better than Sonny and Cher. And, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about them divorcing any time soon (or putting on any sort of comedy hour, for that matter). Yes, the brilliant mind that first offered up that fantastic fusion is a culinary genius, and clearly possesses a gift-giving soul. I owe him (or her) a quartet of fancy salted caramel pots de crème, or a batch of salted caramel fudge, or a beautiful salted caramel Bundt cake, or…    perhaps just a thank you note, since I’d probably eat any or all of those before I could get to the post office to overnight them. My point is that I’m more than a little preoccupied with the stuff. Despite the fact that I really don’t need oodles of sweet treats in my house, because they tend to relentlessly tempt my inner midnight-snacker and cause me to furtively glance at the bathroom scale as though it’s going to bite me, I can’t pry myself away from the gooey goodness! Initially, you may think it sounds like an odd combination. Much like the famous Hollywood institution of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, the notion of the oddball pair can be a bit off-putting. But one bite and you’ll be going back for more like it’s the buffet line at Caesar’s Palace. I promise. Which brings me to…

Salted caramel is not the cheapest thing to buy. In fact, according to most price tags I’ve seen, it seems folks are really proud of their efforts. Since I’m clearly craving it with reckless abandon, I needed to find a way to keep my newfound affinity from breaking the bank. In other words, I needed to find a way to cut out the middleman, and make it myself, any time I damn well please. With that in mind, I researched caramel a little bit, and you know what? Lo’ and behold, it isn’t so difficult to make!! Don’t get me wrong, it requires constant whisking so the sugar doesn’t burn, which is a pain in the butt when you have five dogs racing through the kitchen, dinner in the oven, and a sixteen-month old who’s peppering the kitchen floor with a package of goldfish crackers. But all told, it’s a fairly cheap and easy process… even for someone who refuses to follow recipes! Baking generally doesn’t allow for a ton of wiggle room, in my opinion, so I was a bit nervous to leap without looking. I was surprised to find that I was able to color outside of the lines without incurring catastrophic repercussions. In fact, adding my own flair resulted in a better caramel sauce than I could have hoped for. It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s mildly time-consuming, and it’s fun! Because seriously? There’s nothing better than a sauce with caramel and salt. Unless, of course, you add my other favorite thing… coffee! Which is exactly what I did.

 

My “Perky” Salted Caramel Sauce

(Recipe created by Jenna von Oy)

 

Ingredients:

 

½  Cup granulated white sugar

½  Cup light brown sugar

1 ½ (6-8 tablespoons)Sticks unsalted butter

½ Cup heavy whipping cream

½ Cup strong French roast coffee

Fleur de sel to taste (about ½ -3/4 tablespoon)

 

Directions:

 

~Cut butter into small squares, and measure out the rest of your ingredients. In other words, get everything ready in advance. Once you get the sugar cooking down, you won’t want to walk away from it or get too distracted! (So basically, maybe don’t make this until your kids are asleep…)

~ Heat all sugar in a saucepan over medium/high heat. I prefer a good solid stainless All-Clad saucepan, but as long as you have something you’re comfortable with, you should be golden. When the sugar starts to melt, you’ll need to begin whisking… and whisking… and whisking. Sugar burns super easily, so that’s why I’m making sure you understand the importance of continuing to whisk. And this is the tough part, because the sugar clumps up like little rock candies before it actually melts down. Plus, it sticks to EVERYTHING that touches it, so be forewarned! The idea is to get the sugar browned, but not burned. It should turn a very deep golden-brown color, and reach about 350 degrees with a candy thermometer… which I would definitely recommend using, if you have one handy.

~Once you have that pretty, toasty hue, begin whisking in your butter squares. I put in a few at a time, whisked until everything was well blended, then added a few more. Keep doing that until all of the butter is melted and combined with the sugar.

~Pull your saucepan off of the heat, and add your heavy whipping cream. You want to whisk until the cream is completely incorporated in your sugar/butter mixture.

~Whisk in your French Roast coffee.

~Whisk in your salt. I would add a little at a time, until you have the desired flavor you are looking for.

~I set the caramel to the side for a little while (maybe 10-15 minutes) before using it, so it could cool down. I then drizzled some over our homemade breakfast croissants, and poured the rest into a giant mason jar. The great news?  It can keep for up to several weeks or even a month in the fridge! You know, if it lasts that long without you eating it J

 

Now get out there and indulge your salty-sweet tooth!

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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October 18, 2013

 

Mayim & I Meeting For The First Time- 1990

Mayim & I Meeting For The First Time- 1990

After Lucy had Ethel, but before Will had Grace, Blossom had Six. It was a tale of two teenage girls who were polar opposites (one wise beyond her years and tending toward quirky, awesome geekdom, and the other a boy-crazy little imp, who was prone to loquacious, annoying surges of dialogue) but whose undeniable chemistry endeared them to one another… and to millions of television viewers across the globe.

Yes, I was one half of a duo that has indelibly marked the sitcom best friend circuit for all of eternity. Blossom and Six have been immortalized in the history books (or at least on Wikipedia) as floppy hat-wearers, wacky clothing trendsetters, and deliverers of weekly adolescent angst, peppered with punchlines. We brought five years worth of “very special episodes” to your Monday night lineup, witnessed the spread of the “Whoa!” epidemic, and tackled pivotal issues such as single parenting and substance abuse. We arguably offered up the idea that looking like a runway model doesn’t have to be a prerequisite for girls who star on TV shows, and that maybe, just maybe, roles intended to represent the average high school girl shouldn’t be played by thirty-year olds (I’m talking to YOU, former 90210-ers!). Saturday Night Live parodied our friendship in skits, and they cracked jokes about us on sitcom giants like Seinfeld. All the while, Blossom and Six were masterfully executing mischievous schemes like dumping bubble bath into hotel hot tubs, and sneaking off to scandalous make-out parties. There were run-ins with various celebrity guests like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, several of The Golden Girls, Little Richard, and even Alf. Yes, I said Alf. Didn’t we have the life?

Now, I won’t lie; most of my Blossom days are a blur at this point. Twenty years (twenty years! Does that make you feel old, or what?) has caused me to shove a lot of my memories into a cluttered mental file cabinet, and I cannot seem to locate the key. What I DO recall quite vividly, however, is my time spent with Mayim Bialik. If I’m being completely candid, though we played the epitome of onscreen best friends, I can’t swear we were always on the same page off-camera. Sure, we both endured bouts of acne, worried about getting our homework done, and had silly crushes on boys who would never love us back, but our similarities hit a brick wall once we got past most of the typical teenage trials and tribulations. Put it this way– Mayim was behind the scenes solving New York Times crossword puzzles in permanent ink, while I was busy doing far more serious things… you know, like chewing bubble gum and bopping around to Boyz II Men. (That’s not to suggest I was entirely shallow, but my interest in indulging my cerebral side only slightly surpassed my desire to streak naked through my high school auditorium screaming, ”My chest is flatter than a three-day old 7-UP!”) Don’t get me wrong– Mayim and I got along swimmingly, and I respected her more than she’ll ever know (that part hasn’t changed); we just had contrasting interests. Those distinctions made for some fantastic storylines for our characters, but didn’t necessarily serve us equally well on a personal level. Which, I suppose, is one of the many reasons why I cherish the fact that Mayim and I still talk, almost two decades after our show has ended. The truth is, and this surprised me as much as is might surprise you, Mayim and I are probably closer now than we ever were back in the day. And while the foundation of our rapport is certainly steeped in our Blossom history together, I can honestly say I owe the strength of our present friendship to breastfeeding.

You read that right; I said breastfeeding. Mayim and I are bosom buddies, so to speak.

Though we have kept in touch on and off over the years, motherhood has truly offered Mayim and I some sturdy common ground, pioneered by our mutual advocacy for breastfeeding. In honor of breastfeeding month (which was actually August, if we’re being honest, but who’s counting?) the two of us were inspired to interview one another regarding some of our favorite topics: namely, Blossom, babies, and boobs… and not necessarily in that order. Since we both have our respective parenting blogs, we thought you might appreciate some insight into our friendship and our motherhood adventures. And who knows, maybe it will satisfy some of your 90’s nostalgia at the same time. So, go throw on an old Ace of Base cassette (if you’re willing to admit you own one), and read on!

PS. You can find my interview with Mayim here, and Mayim’s side of it (not to mention, additional photos) on her wonderful blog on Kveller.com!

 Our "Technologically Advanced" Interview Session!

The Interview:

I know people have been asking for a Blossom and Six reunion for years, so here it is! (Though perhaps in a slightly different capacity than some might have expected.) In honor of National Breastfeeding Month, you and I decided to come together to discuss an area of parenting where we truly see eye to eye…

Jenna:   First and foremost, we spent our formative years dishing about cute guest stars, wearing floppy hats in front of a studio audience, and watching each other go through various awkward phases (including getting boobs in the first place). Did you ever imagine, in your wildest dreams, several decades later would give way to discussions about raising children and breastfeeding?

 

Mayim: Ha! No way! When we were teenagers, I didn’t think much at all about life after being an awkward teenager… I had no clue what our lives would look like. When the show ended and we all kind of scattered, I really wanted to leave behind so much of my “show biz” life and just try to be a normal nerd, as opposed to a show biz nerd. We never formally “lost touch” but it’s been so cool to reconnect as adults with so many shared interests, largely because we are both moms. I have friends I have known forever who don’t have kids, and I have friends I have known for a short period of time who do have kids; and sometimes, you just connect simply because you are moms with certain people, right? It’s important to have so many kinds of relationships, but it’s especially neat that we knew each other as teenagers and now we get to know each other as moms. And I’m so proud of you, of course, for everything you do and talk about regarding being a mom.

 

Jenna: Thank you! The feeling is entirely mutual. In fact– you are an outspoken advocate of breastfeeding, as well as a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor. Most people don’t know this, but you’ve also become my go-to guru on all things breastfeeding related! How did placing such an importance on breastfeeding come about for you? Did you always feel strongly about it? What made you decide to take that next step and get certified?

 

Mayim: The reason I did it is simple: I struggled horribly with breastfeeding both of my sons. “Atypical nipples” (we’ll leave it at that…!), babies with receded chins, babies with mouths smaller proportionally than my nipple (that’s the last nipple reference, I promise), thrush, mastitis, nursing blisters, high needs babies who nursed every 2-3 hours all day and night for years (not exaggerating); name the breastfeeding problem and I have had it. I was in so much pain physically and emotionally, getting through the first months of breastfeeding, that I could not leave the house for weeks. Going to La Leche League meetings was great, but I needed someone to see me in my home to help me with positioning and minimizing damage to my breasts. There were La Leche League leaders and lactation consultants who did this for me, and I felt the only way to thank them– besides continuing to nurse until my sons were done– was to give that back. So I took a course through UC San Diego Extension and I got certified. It was a wonderful class and I have consulted at least a dozen women since then. I often consult by phone, and many breastfeeding problems can be resolved with some basic education, positioning shifts, and the love and support from another mom. I love giving back this way and the moms and dads and babies I get pictures of, who benefitted from my experience, are all the thanks I need!

 

Jenna:  Well, I can tell you your consultations have certainly helped me! They have provided me with unparalleled encouragement, and I’m incredibly grateful to you. Generally speaking, I tend to be more of an extrovert than you. That said, my breastfeeding journey began with many an ungraceful (and unsuccessful) attempt to hide it. I’ve certainly gotten better about it (hence our photos of encouragement which accompany this post!), but I was even worried about breastfeeding in the back seat of my car– which has tinted windows– for a while, because there are so many stories of women getting kicked out of restaurants and being publicly shamed. So many people are intent on making breastfeeding out to be a foul and ugly practice. Meanwhile, you’ve been photographed nursing your son on a New York subway– go you! Tell me your secret to ignoring the obnoxious and angry stares of fellow passengers. Is our right to breastfeed in public protected regardless of where we are? More importantly, why the hell is everyone so uptight about something so natural?

 

Mayim: It’s so funny; I am a very modest person, but there is nothing sexual about breastfeeding. I absolutely wouldn’t let my bare breasts hang out on the subway, but as a last resort to calming my toddler, I absolutely tucked him under my shirt and breastfed him on that subway; it was the kindest thing to do for all involved! I always breastfed with a thin blanket draped around any exposed skin, and I was self-conscious about that for sure; I didn’t want people staring at my body since, even though it’s not sexual, breastfeeding does involve breasts possibly being exposed! I see women with those “hooter hiders” and I think a lot of that is because we think we should be covering up. My babies would not have liked any fabric over them at all, and I think it would have decreased the eye contact and ability for them to look around, which is a normal part of breastfeeding. Of course, if women want to use those, that’s fine, but it should not be because we “should” use them. Breastfeeding in public is as normal as bottle feeding, if not MORE normal, since it’s what our bodies are supposed to do for the benefit of baby and mom. I think less people will stare if it’s less of a novelty. When I see moms breastfeeding in public, I give them a gentle smile to let them know I think they are awesome. When people did that for me, it always felt so good.

Breastfeeding

Photo Credit: Left: Courtesy Mayim Bialik/Right: Mimosa Arts Photography

 

Jenna:  What do you typically find to be the most common misconception, regarding breastfeeding? Similarly, what are the most egregious breastfeeding myths?

 

Mayim: Wow, there are so many. One is that some women “can’t” breastfeed. A very small percentage (less than 1%) of women have a genetic inability to produce “enough” milk. Women who are told they are not making enough are usually not getting the right support and education. Establishing a milk supply takes about 3 months, during which you should put the baby to the breast as much as baby wants to, including at night and with no “substitutes” for your milk or breast. Avoiding any artificial baby milk, pacifiers, and simply letting baby nurse for milk and to satisfy the normal sucking need; all of this helps establish a milk supply for the first 3 months. After that, maintaining a milk supply is not difficult, but without proper information, education, resources, and support, many women think they don’t have enough and can’t make enough. Every single woman deserves the right information to learn how the breast makes milk, how to increase baby’s demand to increase supply, and how to keep the milk supply up.

Another myth is that breastfeeding is the same as using artificial baby milk (formula). There is no substitute of artificial milk that mimics the properties of breastmilk. Of course, not every woman chooses to breastfeed, and there is no way I would ever tell anyone what to do with their body, but it is not correct for formula companies or doctors to say there is no difference between human breastmilk and artificial baby milk. I was told this when my first son was in the NICU, and it was outrageously untrue; of course there is a difference! In addition, the human species is not designed to digest cow’s milk, and many babies end up with diarrhea or constipation from bad reactions to cow’s milk in formula. It’s because it’s hard for their little bodies!

A third myth is that babies need formula in the first days of life as colostrum is gradually replaced by ‘full’ breastmilk. It is normal for babies to be born hungry and to lose a little bit of weight. It is expected, and not generally a medical problem requiring the use of formula. I am not a medical doctor, and I am not giving medical advice, but a lactation consultant and a skilled La Leche League leader can help you assess your newborn along with a pediatrician. Babies put to the breast after birth are designed to regain their weight safely and without stress by ingesting the critical colostrum our bodies produce before the full supply comes in, typically at 3-4 days post birth. Newborns do want to be at the breast a lot in the early days, but that does not mean you don’t have enough milk; it means baby is helping your body establish that milk supply the way babies have done for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. Babies can thrive and survive on mother’s milk; it’s what they were made to do!

Finally– breastmilk, and breastmilk alone, is all your baby needs for at least the first 6 months of life. Babies do not need to eat solid food before then and, nutritionally, babies can breastfeed a full year with no other food, water, or supplements, and thrive. I exclusively breastfed my sons past one year (with nothing else), and with the help of a pediatric nutritionist, I was able to not stress about it as they learned to eat solids closer to 18 months. It may not be for everyone, but exclusively breastfeeding is the appropriate nutrition, natural immunology, and a wonderful source of everything babies need. The Academy of Pediatrics agrees, and although it’s fun to try and feed a baby [solids], they generally don’t suppress the gag reflex until closer to 9 months to 1 year. They don’t “need” food, for sure, before 6 months, and can definitely be fine without it beyond a year.

 

Jenna: What crucial piece of information do you hope every woman has before considering the notion of breastfeeding, or before her baby latches on for the first time?

 

Mayim: Babies are born to be breastfed. Our bodies are made to do that. With the right education, support, and resources, breastfeeding can happen and can be a tremendously beautiful and wonderful style of living and parenting for as short or long as you choose to do it. The rewards are infinitely, indescribably fantastic. But you need to have help in place so you can reach out immediately if you struggle at all. One day of poor positioning can take weeks to recover from, so having immediate help in place before you give birth is so important. Attend a free La Leche League meeting when you are pregnant. See other moms breastfeeding, and hear their mother-to-mother support. Not all breastfeeding people are “hippies” like most people assume. They are all different kinds of moms: working moms, at home moms, and moms of all colors, sizes, and backgrounds.

 

Jenna:  I’ve reached out to you with random (and sometimes bizarre) questions such as, “Why is my daughter more interested in my left breast instead of my right?”  So we can all commiserate, what is the strangest question you’ve ever received regarding breastfeeding?

 

Mayim: Ha, so funny. I have never considered ranking the strange questions! Um…I think the “nursing strike” questions are the hardest and sometimes the most mysterious. Sometimes babies can get ‘spooked’ during breastfeeding, often by accident. One mom got startled and screamed in shock while breastfeeding, and baby got so scared that she refused the breast for weeks… These kinds of things can be resolved, but it is hard to know how exactly to ‘seduce’ baby back to the breast. These are challenging questions for sure, but not as fun as explaining breast preference I guess…

 

Jenna:  Breastfeeding really seems to have taken more of a backseat to formula in the last few decades, despite the current movement of openly discussing it and raising awareness. When I was a baby, it seemed most mothers breastfed without considering other options. My own mother, for example, would never even have thought to give us formula. I cannot quote worldwide statistics, but I’m a bit baffled by the number of women I know who have chosen formula over nursing, or quit after only a couple of months. I want to make it clear that I don’t resent or judge them in the least, as it’s their prerogative. But I can’t say I totally understand it either. (As a side note, people also tend to be terribly surprised when I tell them I’m still breastfeeding my daughter at 17 months old.) What do you think the formula-driven trend stems from? Is it our society’s selfish need to have everything done simpler, quicker and more effortlessly? Is it vanity? An onslaught of fanatical formula lobbyists? I jest, but you get the idea!

 

Mayim: This is a very controversial topic, especially in the age of “me” which I think dominates a lot of Western culture. Meaning, I meet a lot of women who don’t believe that their child should change their life much at all; they still want to have the life they did before…To some of these women, breastfeeding is too much of a change to their body, and schedule, and lifestyle, and I can totally see women saying that. Breastfeeding is, indeed, giving over your body for however long you choose to, and it does “tie you” to your baby to a large extent. Sure, you can pump, but for many women pumping gets so tedious that they don’t want to keep it up, and this eventually leads to weaning.

Some of it might be vanity, but I don’t know that I can speak to that. The rise in C-sections is, I think, often based on scheduling and also not wanting stretch marks in those last weeks, since we hear of many celebrities having ‘early’ C-sections for this reason. A recent study has shown that there may be undesirable side effects to these early C-sections, by the way.

 

Jenna:  I hear you. As a matter of fact, I worried about that greatly when I had my C-section. Vanity just wasn’t part of the equation for me, and I was desperately hoping for a natural birth. It turned out that Gray was in the Breech position, however, and I’d lost so much amniotic fluid that there was just no way to turn her around without risking her wellbeing. Ultimately, I just wanted a healthy baby. Whatever preconceived birth plan I’d had in mind suddenly had to take a backseat! Although I wound up with no choice but to have a C-section (at least according to my trusted ob-gyn and the high-risk specialist I had to see), it took some time for me to reconcile the change in delivery method. For that reason, it frustrates me to hear of folks who are eager to schedule an early C-section without medical cause, just because it suits their timeline.

So… Now that we’ve bared our parenting souls (and our breasts) to everyone, how about a handful of non boob-oriented questions? I imagine there are some folks out there who are ready to hear about the other facets of your life! Aside from your obvious success as an actress, you are a member of (and used to be a spokesperson for) the Holistic Moms Network, and have become widely acknowledged as a proponent and practitioner of Attachment Parenting. In fact, you even wrote a book on it.

 

 

BTS cover-Mayim

Photo Credit: Denise Herrick Borchert

Jenna (cont.): This method has drawn a lot of attention from the media and, while you certainly don’t need my defense, I’ve found that people often –albeit oddly– ask me to defend you simply based on our association. If I’m being asked to do so, I can’t fathom what you’re up against! (For the record, I’m a firm believer that your parenting style isn’t something that needs to be defended. I admire your dedication, even if not all of your convictions are in line with my own, and I wish others could find it in their hearts to do the same.) People can be horribly nasty when they feel your choices differ from theirs, are unconventional, or make them uncomfortable. What do you feel people most commonly misunderstand about you? Has it been a struggle to keep your children from witnessing/hearing any of it?

 

Mayim: I’m sorry people are always looking for some sound bite…! I appreciate your support personally and publicly, but I guess I was willing to take a hit on behalf of all of the non-famous amazing moms and dads I know who parent this way simply because it’s natural to do so, it works for them and their family, and their kids are thriving and content and happy to be alive. The media is so interested in making an “issue” and judging people like me, but I simply do what I feel is best based on my neuroscience education, my talking to other moms, and seeking support and love from people who accept me like I am. My kids are sweet, securely attached, loving, gentle, curious, and they sleep through the night without nursing. I think we are doing fine!

 

Jenna: Amen. I think you are too! As if you don’t have enough to keep you busy, you pen a weekly blog on Kveller.com. Though I’m not Jewish, I find your posts to be witty, raw, and personal in a way that spans every religion and parenting style, including my own. In the past, you have mentioned that being vulnerable isn’t an easy feat for you, which makes me even more appreciative of how open and exposed you allow your blog posts to be. You seem to wear your heart on your sleeve, broaching subjects such as your recent divorce. You began one article with, I wonder when parenting/my life will stop feeling like something to survive.” The face of divorce is often ugly and mean. It impresses me that you and your ex have managed to push beyond the pain so you can come together for the sake of your children. How is the co-parenting adventure and “survival” going? What advice would you give for others who are trying to work through the same scenario?

 

Mayim: I actually credit Attachment Parenting with helping Mike and me navigate divorce the way we have. Our kids’ welfare is of the utmost importance to us both, as it was in all of our decisions. Our sons, through our parenting style, have tremendous emotional capacity to communicate and feel; they are not afraid of feelings, and they expect the world to give them only love and support because that’s what they were immersed in. They feel safe with us and with the world, and that was a huge goal in our early years of parenting them: to let them feel safe and be allowed to experience everything in a safe way.

Divorce sucks, but we have consistently put our kids’ needs first, with literally no exceptions. I respect Mike so much and he is the best Dad my kids could ever ask for. I hope he thinks I am the best Mom too!

 

Jenna: On a completely different subject– My Chiropractor (who is mildly obsessed with your show) would kill me if I didn’t at least ask one question regarding The Big Bang Theory. This certainly won’t be an earth-shattering question on my part, but what is the most enjoyable aspect of playing the socially awkward Amy Farrah Fowler?

 

Mayim: Ha, tell your chiropractor thank you! I like that anything can come out of Amy’s mouth; she really says what she is thinking. I also love how she acts so “hot” for Sheldon, but when it comes down to it, he still makes her feel so shy and nervous to take things to the next level. In that way, she is a complicated and “deep” character, which I am happy to bring to this sweet sitcom.

 

Jenna: Speaking of sitcoms… We played best friends for five years, and I know people are just itching for us to reminisce. What was your favorite part of being on Blossom? (I think mine was our disgusting gum ritual before every episode taping… Just prior to being introduced to the live audience, we would all stick a gob of nastiness on the stairwell leading down to the Russo family living room.)

 

Mayim: I think doing the “Rockumentary” episode, where we spoofed Madonna’s “Truth or Dare,” was my favorite two weeks ever. We filmed it like a little movie, and we had all these improvised scenes; we got to dance and dress up in all those fun costumes. I loved those weeks so much. We had cool cameos from Neil Patrick Harris, and (then) president of NBC, Warren Littlefield, and Tori Spelling, and David Cassidy; it was so much fun!

I also loved that you and I took tap dance classes together at lunch for years in that upstairs room above our stage. You were as fast a tapper as you were a talker and I really enjoyed all of those years together on our lunch breaks! We also used to sing “Wilson Phillips” songs since you are such a skilled soprano (right?) and I am a manly tenor who loves to harmonize…we had such good times amidst all the craziness of becoming famous people as teenagers!

Also, you and Joey were much “cooler” than I was, and I was into Elvis Costello, and I didn’t shave my legs, and I was this feminist weirdo, and you guys knew all these pop culture references, and I always felt so weird. Even though we were all equals in many ways, I felt like I was the weird kid in high school around you two, which I was! I had a huge crush on Michael Stoyanov, and Joey used to always tease me about that. Such memories!

 

Jenna: There’s such a strange and wonderful juxtaposition between how we related to one another during childhood, versus how we relate to one another now, isn’t there? Though, in an ironic turn, I always felt like I was the black sheep! I was younger than you and Joey, and not technically considered a regular cast member until the second season of the series, so I always thought of myself as the outsider. I thought you and Joey had this great brother/sister relationship going on, and I was the third wheel. It’s amazing what screwed-up notions adolescent insecurities put in our heads. That said, I had a colossal crush on Joey (I think it must have been his awesome hair), so I guess you and I were both battling our unrequited-crush demons!  I hate that we weren’t as close as we could have been back then, but hindsight is 20/20, huh? It’s unbelievably neat that we’ve managed to bridge the gap and bond so many years later, over something as beautiful as breastfeeding. I truly respect you as a fellow mom, and I’m proud of you: your success, your parenting, and our friendship.  Thank you for letting me interview you for my blog, and thank you for returning the favor on yours! (Click here for my interview with Mayim on Kveller.com)

 

I hope this little “blast from the past catch-up session” has been as fun for you as it was for Mayim and me. That is, of course, if we didn’t scare you off with our talk of ancient crushes and breastfeeding woes! With any luck, we’ve resurrected some fond memories of your Monday night TV watching; maybe you’re even whistling the good ol’ “My Opinionation” theme song as you read this. At the very least, I hope we’ve satisfied your hankering for a Blossom and Six reunion. Needless to say, the memory of that friendship lives on in my 90’s-loving heart… and perhaps in yours as well.

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, & Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

 

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  • Danika says:

    Great interview Jenna! I am a regular reader of both blogs so this was a pleasure to read.

    As a first time Mom breastfeeding did not come naturally, however I was determined to succeed. Today, my 13 month old son and I are still going strong! The journey has been long but fulfilling he still feeds every 2-3 hours, I still have to maintain a strict low allergen diet and he has only been on solids for the past few months. We delayed solids to give his his digestve system time to mature as he reacts to protiens through my milk, food protien induced allergic proctocolitis.

    Mayim’s story resonants strongly with me, I share the majority of her parenting philosophy and it was a comfort, at the time, reading about Mayim delaying solids, I wasn’t the only one.

    I look at my chubby cheeked, clear skinned happy son and I am so proud of myself and thankful I gave him the best start in life. Even though I once suffered an awful cold he has never once been sick or had an ear infection, liquid gold!

    I am baffled also at how readily Mothers turn to formula, one friend didn’t even attempt it.The abundance of misinfornation regarding breastfeeding is astounding. It should be an obvious choice to breastfeed, sadly it is often not the case.

    Thank you Jenna and Mayim for using your position in the public sphere to bring awareness.

  • Heather says:

    It is so much fun to see you both together <3

    I have five children and I am 37. I thought I was an old pro at breastfeeding. My 5th baby was born and would not nurse. I nursed all my children directly after giving birth. I was floored and the mw and I thought it was probably because he was a wee bit earlier than my others. But, it became a huge roller coaster or emotions and even a hospital stay. I ended up pumping and want to give up. But, a friend said just wait till 3 or 4 months. Don't give up. He is still nursing and quite well at that. He turned 2 in February.

  • Julienne Cunningham says:

    This is just wonderful!! I was a huge Blossom fan and I’m glad to know that I wasn’t the only one who had a crush on Michael! I don’t have children yet and will very likely not have biological children due to having chronic illnesses, but I still love reading about breast feeding and attachment parenting. Do you have any advice for parenting with foster children?

    • I don’t have foster children myself, so I wouldn’t want to speak out of turn, but I think the most important advice is to love them as you would love a biological child. Patience is also key, because I’m sure the transition is very difficult for everyone involved. I would recommend speaking with someone who is in a professional position to counsel you and help make that transition smoother. You may find it takes a while to earn the child’s trust and respect, but be strong in your love! Trust your heart and let it lead you… I can only imagine that fostering a child is trying, but incredibly rewarding! ~Jenna

  • Sharon says:

    I absolutely loved this! The last paragraph of your interview inspired me to YouTube the Blossom intro. And it struck me with such suddeness, how much that show – how much both of you, influenced me 20 years ago. I am about your age Jenna, so watching Blossom back then at quite a tumultuous time really struck a chord with me. Having not thought much about it for a couple of decades, I’d not realised how much I looked up to you both back then. I thought of you both as so pretty and talented and honestly felt so inadequate in comparison. So as both of you were on set feeling like outsiders, girls your age were watching you and wanting to be just like you. I remember wanting to be as skinny as you and Mayim and to be able to wear the same things and have just an ounce of your confidence. If I were like you I could do anything.

    Wow! So many years down the track now and you girls have turned into awesome Moms and level-headed good people. I’m glad to have your blogs to read as you both feel like old friends even though we’ve never met. It’s so unreal some days that it was all so long ago.

    Thanks for doing this catch up with Mayim. It’s given me lots of feels :)

    • Sharon~ what a beautiful note… thank you! It means a lot to hear that we struck a chord, and I’m glad you enjoyed our interviews with one another. In many ways,it all feels like just yesterday to us too! The passage of time is so strange that way. I’m just glad we’re all past the acne and raging hormones! Wishing you all the best… ~ Jenna